Wednesday, March 15, 2023

Time well wasted

From an appreciation on Twitter:
The older I get, the better C.S. Lewis gets. His wisdom gets keener, and his insight clearer year by year. Like Aslan, he grows as I do.

I can understand why some folks who didn’t grow up in Narnia with the Pevensies may not warm to those stories. Jesus himself tells us that it is hard to relearn the wisdom of childhood once we’ve allowed the accumulation of years to dilute our ability for faith and wonder.

But Lewis didn’t just write stories for kids. The Ransom Trilogy (Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra, That Hideous Strength) was meant for adults. It is well told fiction, well taught theology, and well wrought social commentary. Those who appreciate what Orwell does with 1984 should watch a master at work in That Hideous Strength.

Lewis understood that good fiction can do all sorts of things, and that the best fiction can do the most important things—chief among them is telling the truth.....

...[I]f fiction is not your cup of tea, there is still no shortage of good—perhaps even the best—Lewis. His Preface to Paradise Lost is high art. More than a mere literary psychology of Milton, tracing his thought through Homer and Virgil and Beowulf, Lewis provides a psychology of Satan and litters the page with keen insights into human nature, evil, and the dynamics of the Fall. ....
Another gem that many overlook is his book on medieval cosmology disguised as literary criticism, The Discarded Image. Perhaps no other work has helped me understand the spirit of the Renaissance, with its humours, and hierarchies, and music of the spheres. More still, it helps us see what shaped the men who shaped the world. ....

His Studies in Words is a heady shot of philosophical philology served neat with no chaser. .... And many have never heard of his academic magnum opus, English Literature in the Sixteenth Century (Excluding Drama) and this is a shame. It really is an engaging work, despite its rather drab title. It is a fascinating study of a logocentric world turned into words again.

I have largely avoided his most “popular” titles (Miracles, Mere Christianity, Screwtape Letters, Surprised by Joy, A Grief Observed, etc.), because their ubiquity is its own testimony. Of course they are worth reading, and it is time well wasted.

Lewis is not overrated, people are simply not interesting enough these days to be sufficiently interested. To borrow from Chesterton, there’s no lack of wonder, only a lack of wonderers.

You will neglect Lewis to your own intellectual and imaginative impoverishment. ....

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments are moderated. I will gladly approve any comment that responds directly and politely to what has been posted.